The Long Beach State women’s soccer team advances to the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament after defeating No. 7 Pepperdine 1-0 on Saturday at Tari Frahm Rokus Field in Malibu.
Long Beach forward and Big West Offensive Player of the Year Nadia Link scored a golden goal with just 13 seconds left in the first period of overtime, ending the match in the 100th minute of play.
Link said she took a pass from Sidney Garza and heard her head coach Mauricio Ingrassia yelling for her to take it down the line.
“I remember thinking ‘that’s a long way!’ Link said. “It went in and I don’t even remember celebrating – I was too busy crying.”
Link’s goal is her 16th this season and ties her for the LBSU single-season goal record.
While the Waves outshot Long Beach 16 to 7, Pepperdine simply couldn’t put the ball in the net.
Pepperdine head coach Tim Ward said the difference in the game was Link and LBSU goalkeeper Kaitlyn Gustaves.
“Nadia always looked dangerous when she was on the ball. If anything good was going to happen it was going to come through her,” Ward said. “And their keeper made a couple of really nice saves – the kind of saves that give a team confidence.”
Indeed, Gustaves came up big for the 49ers several times in the game, including knocking down a one-on-one shot by Pepperdine’s Amanda LeCave, then getting up and saving LeCave’s rebound shot. Gustaves finished the game with 12 saves.
“Kaitlyn made herself very big and made it very difficult for the players get over her,” Ingrassia said. “She’s just been tremendous and we are fortunate to have a goal keeper of her caliber.”
Link led all players with five shots in the game, with two of those shots on frame. Pepperdine forward Lynn Williams put all four of her shots on goal and Waves defender Michelle Pao put three of her four shots on frame.
Despite putting 12 shots on goal, compared to only two by Long Beach, Ward didn’t think his team had that many good opportunities.
“Their staff said we had some really good looks, but in my mind I can’t really imagine them,” Ward said. “It didn’t seem like we had a lot of clean ones. But, we did have our chances. In a game like this you might not get full-blown quality chances – in games like this they come in half-chances.”
Ward and Ingrassia agreed that with both teams coming into the game as conference champions, the matchup was one better suited to the third round of the tournament.
“We shouldn’t be seeing each other in the first round, but that’s just the way it is,” Ingrassia said. “It’s typical of the West with so many great teams out here. It’s a knock out tournament, and we just have to take whatever comes at us.”
Next up for Long Beach is Miami (Fla.) on Friday, Nov. 18, at a location yet to be determined.